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Full text of "Verdict On India"

CHAPTER, H
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE
WE may as well begin at the top, by going to stay with the
Viceroy.
It will not teach us much aboute India,5 but it is an instructive
experience in other ways. Besides, it was my first port of call, and
there is a faint hope that we may be able to keep to some sort of
rough chronological sequence. This is desirable, not because we
are unrolling a pictorial panorama but because we are tracing an
intellectual development. India gets into your system all too
soon; the first shocks wear off with astounding rapidity. The
flaming blossoms of the golden mohur trees, which scorched your
eyes when you first saw them, soon lose their glory; to-day you
do not even turn youx head whereas yesterday you stared and
stared.
It is the same with the horrors. Indians are not deliberately
cruel to animals, they have a natural feeling of kinship and
affection for them. But their ignorance and poverty are indirectly
responsible for appalling suffering. I had not been in India ten
minutes before I saw my first typical skeleton horse, limping
and staggering down the road, and eventually plunging into the
gutter, a quivering mass of pain and sores. When you see that
sort of thing for the first time you do something about it* What
you do is usually very silly and quite useless, engendering heat,
worrying the police, and in no way helping the horse. So you
learn, out of bitter necessity, to harden your heart.1 With the
beggars too, you hold your haftd. Your first visit to a railway
station, the favourite rendezvous of India's beggars3 is like a trip
through the galleries of those waxen monsters that used to be
exhibited by the showmen at the great Prater fair in Vienna.
Here are lepers, and tertiary syphilitics, and blind children—not
born blind, but blinded by their parents so that they may prove
a source of future income in the beggar market. Here are the
1 This need not prevent you from subscribing to the E.S.P.C.A., one of tfce finest
bodies of men and women who are fighting the battles of the animals in any part of
the world. Their address is 359 Hornby Road, Bombay, and every anna helps !